Friday, May 20, 2011


It's been a crap week for The Man in Crewe, for I have been sticking it to him, good and hard. As you know, people wearing ties are the bane of my life, especially those incapable of the simplest and most menial of tasks; the ones that they are presumably hired, at vast public expense, to do. Many things about them, apart from their patronising tone and their ridiculous inefficiency, irk me. The worst being that they expect me to call them on low cost or free-phone numbers, none of which are free or even low-cost from my mobile, my only source of telephonic communication.

Yesterday morning I was expecting to receive my dole scum allowance as usual but my early morning text from my bank indicated it hadn't been paid. I checked my bank account on line and it still wasn't there. We walked in to town and paid the job centre a visit, where I was told to sit in front of Carole while she hit a few buttons and looked a bit glum. "You'd better phone Chester. Use that phone". I phoned Chester on that phone. They said there was a problem on the method of payment and they would call me back. I said I had an appointment at 3.30 so would be busy. At 5 I checked my phone to find they'd tried to call at 3.30. I **facepalmed**. I checked my voice mail. "This is Cheshire Payments Centre. Returning your call". Oh, thanks. Don't leave a message, that's just cost me 10p. This morning I checked my bank account; paid sometime yesterday. Insert your four-letter descriptive of choice here ****.

This afternoon I received a letter from Cheshire East Council to say that my housing benefit (I am on full scrounge) was being suspended under Regulation 11 (which I had to look up on the interwebs) as they had been informed that I was no longer receiving JSA as of 30th April. There was a long form I was required to fill in. I tsked. And tsked again, this time with added profanity. I ain't gunna fill in no form. I tried to call the low-cost number, I got Vivaldi. I resorted to email, written in one hit with no mistakes. I was on a roll:

My name is Richard, I live in a house in Crewe. I have just received a letter, ref 500522974, informing me that my housing benefits have been suspended because my JSA finished on 30th April. This has come as a bit of a surprise to me as I am still unemployed, a fact evidenced by my attendance at the Crewe Jobcentre on Monday 16th to sign on. I was paid yesterday, albeit slightly later in the day than usual and only after I'd been into the Crewe office to whinge because my regular Thursday text from my bank contained no mention of my JSA payment as it usually does. I guess they didn't tell you but I can't see why that should be my particular problem. Apparently there had been some confusion but this is pretty much par for the course as many of the staff can barely read in my experience. They certainly can't spell my name correctly and many of the job descriptions on the DirectGov website concerning Crewe are written in a language I'm not familiar with. 

The fact is, Crewe jobcentre press-ganged me into attending a work-experience course that started on 31st January and ended on 29th April. I have had experience of work, rather a lot of it actually, during my 50 years on this planet but I went along with it. As it happened, on account of being able to read and spell my own name, I spent most of the time there helping the staff deal with the witless and disaffected dregs of the Thatcher generation who seem to think they are owed a living but still think it's ok to live in a haze of Frosty Jack fumes and Skunk smoke. But I digress. On the 7th of April, I succumbed to acute appendicitis and had to be admitted to Leighton to have the foetid and gangrenous organ removed. Obviously I did not attend the WE course again.  I suspect the fact that the course ended on the glorious occasion of the Royal Wedding has, for some reason, caused the system to go, for the want of a better phrase, tits-up, even though on my return from hospital I filled out all the relevant forms explaining my absence and everyone who needed to be informed, was. I re-signed on 2nd May, as instructed. I've been paid twice, why you haven't been informed is not my problem and I suggest you take it up with JSP. I have not been informed by them that there is a problem 

I am fed up chasing around after faceless bureaucrats, especially ones who can't do their simple jobs properly. It rankles, especially after being out of work so long. I don't own a landline and I am sick to the back teeth of listening to Vivaldi pumped through my mobile on a premium rate number because someone can't use their head and take a simple message to call me back. Hence this email and its rather weary tone.

Please don't ask me to call you, please call me.


It worked. An hour later I got a voice mail from The Man to say he'd called Job Centre and everything was back to normal. But somebody, somewhere is responsible for wasting time I'll never get back. And they will wish their world will have really ended tomorrow.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Sickening, isn't it.

"Isn't it about time you did another blog post?"

"Got nothing to write about."

"Moan about something. I like reading your blog when you're moaning. You were moaning all the time in the car yesterday. All the way back from Southport."

"I only ever write my blog when I'm whingeing about something. Moaning about other drivers doesn't count because that's just normal. I've got nothing else to whine about."



"Not even me?"

"Not even you. I've never been more content. Honest. I've absolutely nothing to complain about at all. Anyway, other people moan about you and that's more entertaining."

(Bail out now, it's not getting any better)

"But when you say you want a packet of crisps, I tell you not to."

"You're correct to. I'm overweight. Thank you for your concern and for caring about me. I don't even go in the fridge after you've gone to bed, even if I fancy something with cheese on. Even lots and lots of cheese. And on a Digestive biscuit. There have been two packets of crisps in the pantry for over a month now. You have taught me discipline and a renewed respect for my body. I've lost a stone and a half since you've been here."

"What's that in kilos? I failed maths O level and I lived in Belgium."

"32, at least, my love."